Flip waited for what felt like far too long for a response but what could have only been a few seconds. Between his own excitement and the crisis before him, adding in Breakneck already getting someone out, time seemed to slow down, and he figured it would be nice to get Noble approval, but perhaps the best way to do that was to show what he could do. Right, he could do that. Without waiting another second, he ran towards the burning building, pulling up his scarf over his nose - Vanguard #255: The Rise of Vapora had emphasized the importance of covering one’s nose and mouth to reduce smoke inhalation, a far deadlier problem than the flames themselves.
“See you on the flip side!” he called as he entered the building. Honestly, stuff like that was why he had yet to change his name. It wasn’t a name that commanded respect or even hinted to his powers, but it did make for good banter.
Inside was as bad as the outside promised. People were flooding out of the stairwell and Flip quickly got out of their way. The elevator doors had been forced open - he suspected Breakneck had something to do with it. But it was important now to make sure everyone got out. It was times like this he wished for clairvoyance or bioscanning or even receptive telepathy, something so he wouldn’t have to manually search the building. But he had to make do. Start with the top floor, he figured - the smoke might be thickest and the heat worst, but maybe his psychic shield would protect him.
The flood of people had slowed to a more reasonable rate, and Flip slipped past with his small stature. The railing was quicker and easier to avoid people than the steps themselves. His telekinesis quickly tucked the loose ends of his scarf into his jacket. After all, Breakneck 126: Versus The Firebug! had made clear the dangers of loose and dirty clothing in a fire, and while the stairs were not aflame, it was better to be prepared. A few levitation bubbles hastened his ascent without tripping over anyone, and the last flight of stairs was deserted. Trying to open the door showed why: something was blocking the door.
Shoving against it telekinetically a few times finally revealed the problem as the door opened a crack - fiery debris had fallen in front of it. He gave it a telekinetic shove of its own and finally opened the door. Several people stared back at him as he stood frozen for a moment, trying not to gag on the smell of smoke and burning hair. His brain then caught up with him and he quickly moved out of their path, keeping the door open for them. He was not surprised when the people moved as one, rushing onto the flight of stairs away from the fire.
“Hey - excuse me - hey!” Flip’s efforts at communication went unheeded as the scared workers ran by him. He tried not to huff - it’d waste valuable oxygen and just make him look bad. He just wanted to ask if anybody had been left behind. Again, it’d be down to manual searching. Once the people had all begun their trek downstairs, he entered the top floor. He’d felt the heat radiating off the door, but inside was incredibly hot. His shield didn’t seem to be protecting him. Dammit. He soldiered on regardless. The first two doors led into lab spaces - empty but for mouse cages, which made him cringe before carrying on - but the third led into an office space. There was a door inside that, when opened, revealed two employees holding up a third, blocked by a flaming drop ceiling tile. A quick telekinetic shove cleared the path for them, and Flip was grateful they were willing to carry out the third employee. He was starting to feel a touch dizzy. He unzipped his jacket and tied it around his waist, tucking in his scarf to the best of his ability.
The office space led into a (thankfully empty) lab space, which led into a service corridor. He perked up at that - it’d be a much quicker way to check the rest of the floor. Clearing his throat to suppress a cough, he continued searching. How big had that initial crowd been? He knew the size had been decently large - had that been most of the employees? Everyone but those three? He didn’t know much about research labs, but maybe they were smaller than he expected.
It was then he heard the cough.
Well, the coughing fit. It had to have come from one of the open doors along the service corridor. Not Door 1, or 2, or even 3 - and Door Number 4 was the spot. A man in a lab coat appeared to have collapsed. Flip rushed over to him. He was still conscious, though only barely.
“Can you-” Flip coughed and tried to shake the sensation off before he coughed even more. “Can you stand?” It was a bit of a silly question, though he took it as a good sign when the man at least tried before groaning and falling back down. Flip tried to lift him; it didn’t work, but it gave him an idea. He summoned a levitation bubble and pulled the man over it, steadying him with telekinesis. A second bubble under the man’s legs successfully got him off the floor, and Flip ‘pulled’ the man to the fire stairs. The railing was high enough that he could roll the man out under it and use telekinesis to keep him on the bubbles as they gently fell towards the ground floor. Only now did Flip give into the urge to cough, almost doubling over with the force of the action. Ok, the heat and smoke might be getting to him, but he’d only done one floor! Mostly done one floor, even, he still had rooms to check! He caught his breath, adjusted his goggles and scarf, and headed back in to finish searching the top floor.
This was going to be his big introduction to New Haven. He couldn’t let the city down.